Exhibition World Issue 2 — 2020 - Page 17

Big Interview inconsistency in quality services, adherence to safety standards, and finding professionals with requisite skill sets, as well as issues in the supply chain. The exhibition industry was not recognised as a well-established industry. Success was, nevertheless, achieved by a few passionate organisers in select sectors through hard work. There has been significant progress over the last 10 years with the addition of new venues and infrastructure. We have come a long way, the supply chain is robust, exhibitors are more aware of green aspects and are using eco-friendly materials in construction of stalls, safety standards have improved and information technology is playing a big role. As a result we are seeing well organised B2B as well as B2C events. Exhibitions are becoming more vibrant enablers of economy. Today there is also an increasing level of collaboration between all stakeholders, while digitalisation and technology such as VR and AR are also playing a major enabling role in exhibitions. What are some of the specifics of the Indian exhibition market? The Indian exhibition industry accounts for 745 national and regional events, resulting in gross area demand of 7.3m sqm and net area of 3.4m sqm. We should soon be moving towards gross area of 8m sqm. While the north and west traditionally attracted more shows, the past decade has seen southern India emerge as an equally important region for exhibitions. Domestic w w w.exhibitionworld.co.uk organisers dominate with around 385 events in a year, accounting for 31% of the total gross area rented. Not-for- profit organisers, including industry associations, government institutions and trade bodies, combined, account for the highest share (42%) in total gross area demand. The exhibition industry here is still evolving and in many sectors is fragmented. While there are about 15 industry segments where you see international scale and quality of participation, in others industry is still at various growth stages of the ‘S’ curve. Indian GDP is US$3 trillion and its exhibition industry is around US$3.5bn, a much smaller percentage of GDP compared to what we see in Europe, the US and other developed markets. This shows the potential of India and, while India is a price-sensitive market, success lies in bringing high value shows in a cost- effective manner. It can be a challenge to break even for small shows and it is important they move quickly to the midsize segment by building customer confidence and leveraging technology. There is immense scope for creating bigger B2B and B2C events. Organisers also need to educate exhibitors and visitors and engage them well before the event so that they get the best value at the show. What are your ambitions for your UFI Presidency? It is a big honour and responsibility. As the President of UFI I will continue to work towards the exhibition industry finding wider recognition and global acceptance. How do you relax in your own time when you’re not at work? I spend as much time as possible with my family. When I find time I read, travel and explore new places and culture both within India and overseas. I will focus on global collaborations and taking UFI’s research and education programmes to the next level. This gives me immense opportunities to learn more and contribute to the industry. When the world is facing economic challenges as well as global disruptions created by Covid-19, it is important for UFI to keep confidence levels high and spearhead policy advocacy in a focused manner with all stakeholders. What advice would you have for someone considering entering the tradefair business today? a. There is a need for networking events. It is very important for the exhibition industry as a whole and the professionals working within it to network and monitor events. Exhibitions of scale give opportunities for exploring new ideas, establishing partnerships and building a personal presence. b. Select the right mentor. Long-term mentoring relationships with your senior or a ‘guru’ will give you rich dividends as you learn the ins and outs of the trade. c. Be open to feedback. This is very important and gives you an overall picture of where you stand. One needs to pay attention to strengths and weaknesses and work on them. d. Attend as many exhibitions and events as possible. e. Long-term focus. Conducting exhibitions can be challenging but rewarding as well. It is necessary to cement relationships that you establish initially. Have a long-term focus in creating sustainable shows and events. Issue 2 2020 17